CONVERSATION

Johanna Pichlbauer

issue #20: Everyday design

The Diary of Johanna Pichlbauer, designer, teacher and community organiser of @design.in.gesellschaft. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here.

Diary of: @joh.pic

Johanna Pichlbauer
Ph. @philipppodesser
1. One of the aims of your work is to explore the emotional potential of machines. Your open topic becomes my question: what changes in and around us as machines and humans move closer together?

It’s an ongoing investigation. I’ve found that machines can enrich human interaction, when the signs are right, but they can also cement power structures, narrowing our scope of action – depending on who is in control, and who is included in the process of developing and deploying new technology. I feel like the process of automating processes is a chance for us to collectively discuss what we want for the future of our society.

Johanna Pichlbauer
@joh.pic X Dall E
2. You like finding poetry in emerging technology… A passion you also developed through your studies in Mechanical Engineering at the Vienna University of Technology and Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts. Where does this passion come from? Which areas of technology are you most passionate about?

I take things personally. If you want to get past your “machine element” exams, you’ll need to study the same gear drive for months, and you’ll almost certainly become very emotionally attached to it. To think tenderly about a machine: I admit it’s weird and certainly nothing that helped much with the exam. But it triggered a wonder for the impact technology has on our emotions. Studying design finally gave me the tools to explore this relationship further. A make-up robot to test how comfortable people are with robots operating in their faces; a search engine that is looking for human drama; a solar park made of towels to be set up within a minute on any city square… Lately, I’ve been particularly interested in our relationship with the sun.

Johanna Pichlbauer
@marlenemautner
Johanna Pichlbauer
@marlenemautner
Johanna Pichlbauer
@marlenemautner
3. You teach at the @tu_wien (Institute for Human Computer Interaction). What studies are you and your students carrying out that particularly inspire you? What changes in contemporary society do they describe?

After working at the Institute for Human Computer Interaction at @tu_wien, I currently teach at the @hfg.gmuend. While my last course was all about getting to know the actors and ideas of Speculative Design, the new course is called Design as Playful Interaction and encourages students to invite a sense of humour into their design processes. Feeling a need to solve today’s challenges can be crushing. I find it helpful to look at the comical side of things.

Johanna Pichlbauer
Student Work by Robert Angerer
Johanna Pichlbauer
Student Work by Robert Angerer
Johanna Pichlbauer
@joh.pic
4. I had the pleasure of meeting you last year at @viennadesignweek, visiting @design.in.gesellschaft, a shared studio located in a charming courtyard in Engerthstraße 124, in Vienna’s 20th district. A place of thinking where 11 designers from the most diverse fields have settled down to work together on projects of various kinds. In an increasingly solitary social dimension, what is the importance of teamwork? How are solutions such as remote working, or other working solutions pioneered during the pandemic, changing this aspect of community life?

Thanks so much for your visit! One and a half years ago, we built the space that we’d all been dreaming of – we’d missed the benefits of shared lunches, mutual inspiration, collaborative projects that we got to know at Uni but that is then so often lost. It’s a lot of work to deal with the different requirements we all have for a workspace, but so worth the discussions! I don’t think that remote work is necessarily an act of solitude. The possibility to work remotely allows us to be here in this space ‘together’, even when we work on projects abroad.

Johanna Pichlbauer
@design.in.gesellschaft
Johanna Pichlbauer
@joh.pic
5. In your private dimension, are you a solitary person or do you enjoy sociability? Is he a person of habit?

Since becoming a mother during a pandemic, my ideas of solitude and community have changed a lot. Time alone is precious. So is a community backing us up. I love living in a city, which lets me have both. I lose keys and I forget to buy eggs, so I’m naturally forced to get to know my neighbours. It’s nice to share.

Johanna Pichlbauer
@joh.pic and @mayairacema
6. At the @viennadesignweek 2022 you showcased a number of projects. What are the main directions in which you are working?

I showed a series of Mounted Porcelain, vases carrying transformatory accessories, that were part of an exhibition I installed at Schloss Hollenegg and my designs were in the Design in Gesellschaft show. I do think that I’m moving towards working with found objects rather than designing new ones, at the same time, I’m moving around the sun – which provides plenty of energy and inspiration for further solar design investigations. Also, I’ve just started a project that looks at our industrialised relationship with animals and the objects this entanglement produces.

Johanna Pichlbauer
@viennadesignweek | Kollektiv Fischka @kramar_fischka | @philipppodesser
Johanna Pichlbauer
@lippzahnschirm
Johanna Pichlbauer
@lippzahnschirm
7. When visiting other installations at @viennadesignweek 2022, which one impressed you the most? For what reasons?

I very much enjoyed Anna Zimmermann’s intervention at Bakalowits! I loved the humour in her designs and it was so openly visible how much both collaboration partners enjoyed the experience – I’m very happy that the Passionswege (design week format that connects a historic brand with a contemporary designer) are back!

Johanna Pichlbauer
@joh.pic
8. On your website, there is a “DIDN’T WORK”. What is it about? Can you tell us about it?

It’s my collection of tile imperfections (@vienna_glitches). Every hallway in Vienna has its glitch and it’s my mission to map them all. It’s liberating to see how we all mess up.

Johanna Pichlbauer
Johanna Pichlbauer | @vienna_glitches
Johanna Pichlbauer
Johanna Pichlbauer | @vienna_glitches
9. You are very active in communication, so much so that you have your own Gazette. Inviting all Caleido readers to subscribe here, can you tell us about this project? What are the topics it deals with and why did you choose this form to do it?

Yes – welcome! I find joy in sharing processes and projects – but for me, while I’m in a research or making phase I’m often in too deep to be able to find the rights words to communicate what the thing is about. So every once in a while, I like to sit back, take stock and assemble thoughts, dates, invitations and progress in a newsletter – my gazette.

Johanna Pichlbauer
@joh.pic
10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory attached to it? Would you send us a photo taken by you?

One of my favourite objects is this peanut cat. I’m a big fan of snacking, and an equally big fan of having guests, so the cat and I make a good Apéro team!

Johanna Pichlbauer

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